Tuesday, March 20, 2018

What is my vocation?

The dictionary meaning of vocation is “a strong feeling of suitability for a particular career or occupation, lie a nurse, lawyer or doctor. This would be a secular meaning.
In spiritual sense when we talk about vocation, it can be as simple as fulfilling out your married life to your spouse and children, or can be fighting abortion while making some sacrifices along the way, could be a call to be a priest or nun, or being a single person serving the poor in third world country or even being a dedicated legionary.

However vocation can be layered out because God could call us to have that strong feeling to do his will at a particular time.

But what does vocation really mean in our relationship with God, and what are some examples

Example of vocation, John the Baptist.  John was to carry out his task the full, even to the extent of giving his life in the fulfillment of his vocation.  Many came to know Jesus through John the Baptist apostolic work. 

One’s vocation embraces one whole life, and our whole being works towards fulfilment of the divine mission.  Each person has a God given vocation.  The divine will desires many other things that depend on the fulfillment of that vocation.  Many great things depend – don’t forget it – on whether you and I live our lives as God’s wants.  Do we bring the people around us closes to God?  Do we give good example in the way we carry out our work, in our family circle, in our social relations.  Do we speak about God to our colleges.

A vocation is a great honor.  When one freely decides to follow Christ completely it takes preference over other plans.  God’s call come first, everything else has to take second place, for example from Mathew 10:34 “He who loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me”  Christ's words don’t create any incompability between the First or fourth commandments, but rather highlight their mutual relationship.  It appears the reading is for those who may be called to serve God and the church as their spouse by being a priest or nun, and so for these children that their love for their parents cannot take precedence over love for God.  Ordinarily  there will be little reason for conflict to rise.

 Overall, it would be sad for anyone to reject the vocation they are being called to turn a deaf ear to God’s call for what ever reason.  To follow our Lord properly calls for completely unfettered detachment, a freedom of heart that is not hampered by sadness or regret, which would only lead to half hearted self giving; the person concerned also need to have the necessary autonomy to fulfil God’s will.

 When someone gives their heart completely to God, it is returned more youthful and enlarged, with a greater capacity to love others.  Vocation is God’s initiative; He knows well what is best for the person called.

A vocation can give us a new meaning, even to the most ordinary things.  The whole of life is effected by Our lords plans for each one of us.  The discovery of one’s personal vocation is the most important point in each person’s vocation, is the most important point in each person’s existence.  It changes everything without changing anything; just as a landscape , without  changing , is different before and after the sun goes down, beneath the light of the moon, or wrapped in the darkness of night. Every discovery give a new beauty to things and a new light creates new shadows, one discovery is the prelude to other discoveries of new lights and more beauty.

Our Lord has chosen all of us, some of us with a specific vocation – to follow him, to imitate him and to carry  on in the world the work of his redemption.  And from all of us he expects a joyful and unshakeable faithfulness.

From "Conversation with God" Fr. Fernandez

Friday, March 16, 2018

Be an Apostle like the Blessed Mother Mary

Be an Apostle like the Blessed Mother Mary

Faith and Obedience are essential of being an apostolate.  The blessed Mother Mary knew this from the beginning, before she was ever called to be the Mother of our God, she already had the grace of faith and obedience, thus making her really the first practicing apostolate

We can also use Peter's experience with Jesus from the scriptures, which is more relatable to us: Luke 5

Peter told Our Lord that they had been working all night and had caught nothing. The fisherman's reply seemed reasonable enough The night hours were they normally fish.
What was the point of fishing by day? But Peter has faith: 'Nevertheless, at your word I will let down the net' He decides to act on Christ's request. Although they are tired, and although it is not a man of the sea who gives the order, and although the fishermen are well aware that the time is all wrong for fishing; although they know perfectly well there are no fish around, they put all hands to lowering the nets. Now, purely out of faith, purely out of trust in Jesus, they simply dismiss from their minds those considerations that normally would tell
them whether fishing was advisable or not. What sets them to work again is Peter's faith in his Master. Simon simply obeys and trusts.

Once again, the apostolate, faith and obedience are indispensable.  Without obedience, everything is use less in God's eyes.  Any type of work or action to help is fruitless unless we carry out God's will, Saint John Chrysostom notes:  God does not need our work but he needs our obedience.   
This is something Mary did, she was obedient even to the point when she said "yes" to bearing God, knowing the earthly difficulties involved, such as explaining to Joseph her pregnancy, etc.
Our lord call us to follow him closely and to be apostle in the middle of the world, like Mary did.  Apostolic effectiveness depends on our union with Christ

The miracle of the fish caught teaches a lesson, it is only when we acknowledge our own uselessness or sin and put our trust in the lord  that the apostolate is effective and fruitful, once again like our Mother

But going back to Peter

Peter is amazed at the miracle. and is when in a single instant he sees everything with great clarity. Christ's omnipotence and wisdom; his own calling and his unworthiness. He
throws himself down at the feet of Jesus as soon as they come to land. Depar from me, he says, for I am a sinful man. He acknowledges the loftiness of Christ's great dignity, his own wretchedness and his obvious lack of ability to carry out the mission of which he already has a presented

  Then Our Lord takes away his fear and reveals to him in all its clarity the new meaning of his life: Do not be afraid; henceforth you will be catching men. Jesus draws on Peter's
occupation, in the pursuance of which He had sought him out, to make known to him his mission as an Apostle. The awareness of God's holiness and of our condition as sinners
does not separate men from God, but rather brings men closer to hint Moreover, once a man has been convened, he declares his faith openly and becomes an apostle

Our Lord calls all of us to be apostles in the middle of the world, whether we are sitting by a computer, or follow-ing the plough, in the great city or in a little village.  Whatever condition you are sick or healthy, each of us in his own way are called by our lord to the perfections of sanctity.

John 15:16 You did not choose me, but I chose you, just like Mary was chosen to help redeem the world and accepted God's will

Ask Mary to help you make up your mind to share the desires of sowing and fishing that fill the heart of her Son.  I can assure you that if you begin you will see the boat filled , just like the fishermen from Galilee. And you will find Christ on the shore, waiting for you.

Reflection from Maria Legionis 2013 and "Conversation with God" Fr. Fernandez

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Why we have a Pope for our faith

Why we have a Pope for our faith

Reflection from "Conversation with God"

Jesus is the good Shepard and entrusts Peter and his successors with government if his church is to continue its mission on earth. 

The early Christians had a special affection for the image of the good Shepard, leaving countless testimonies of it in the catacombs, grave stones etchings, mosaics and so on.

The Old Testament frequently refer to the messiah as the good Shepard who must feed, rule and govern God's people who are abandoned or scattered.  These prophesies are fulfilled in Jesus, buth with in "him" with new features.  He leads the sheep who follow him because they know his voice, he is the one and "only" Shepard with only one "flock", he is the chief Shepard.

In his last appearance before the Ascension, Christ made Peter the Shepard of his flock. The prophecy made before the passion of Jesus, "I have prayed for your faith may not fail; and when you have turned again; strengthen your brethren".

Two things:

  • Christ trust Peter despite his denials
  • Christ doesn't mind entrusting a weak main who repents and loves with deeds
The Shepard symbol which Jesus claimed fro himself is passed on to Peter, he must continue our Lords mission and his representative on earth.  Jesus words to Peter "feed my lambs; feed my sheep".  Feed is equivalent to direct and govern. 

Church is built on the primacy of Peter as on a rock , Christ is the real foundation of the church.

Here are some Old Testament references:

  • Genesis 41 Joseph is proclaimed second in command to the Pharoh; Al ha-banit (over the household). It's here Joseph acts as an ambassador
  • Exodus - Moses intercedes for the people.  Provided the 10 commandments, help laid out "kingdom of priests for the Israelites - "kohen". Also in connection to setting up the "Tabernacle" and the "Sabeth"
  • Numbers 20  - "Speak to the rock", The rock "followed then" through the wilderness", the rock is Christ- 1Cor 10:4
  • David = proclaimed King

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Early Church Fathers on Blessed Mother's Grace

There are three church further dating back 500 AD or earlier that had homilies on this topics "Mary's Grace", all these church fathers were bishops at their respective area's

James of Saruggh (paraphrase parts of homily)

We should tremble with emotion when we speak of Mary because the daughter of men reached the highest measure of greatness

  • What happened by chance?
  • Did the Son pour grace itself over her?
  • Or was she so pleasing to him that she was converted into the Mother of the Son of God?
That he can down on earth is on its own a gift is clear. With Mary pure, he got hold of her.  He saw humility, her meekness and purity dwelt in her.  God finds it easy to rest in those who are humble.  The highest perfection has to be humility.  Look at Moses or Abraham, the showed humility where God had talked to them both directly.  

This is the principle way by which man gets closer to God. No one in the world has humbled herself as Mary. Our Lord seeking to descend on earth, searched among all women, selected only one.  He saw noble condition in her, no disorder caused by vanities of the world, no childish behavior of a little girl.  She was prudent and filled with love of God; our Lord doesn't dwell where love does not reign.  Her nature was guarded by a free will fixed on noblest things. She was strikingly beautiful in her nature and in her will because she was not polluted by illegitimate thoughts, since childhood had no stain deformed her integrity ; She journeyed all along the way without sin.

St. Augustine of Hippo

Christ did not condemn maternal affection, but showed with his towering example that one has to  leave behind one's own Mother to carry out the works of God.

Mary is chosen so that from her salvation would be born to us and created by Christ before,  Christ was created in her - did fulfill the will of the Father which Mary did so perfectly. Mary through faith believed and conceived, was more a disciple of Christ, than simply a Mother to him, Mary was already blessed by carrying the "Teacher" in her womb. 

Mary is blessed because she heard the word of God and kept it.  What was found in Mary's soul is better than what she conceived in the womb, because Christs "Truth" was in her soul. Where Eve was corrupted by the word of the serpent, there the church ought to be a virgin of grace of Omnipotent.  Members of Christ give birth in the mind as Mary gave birth to Christ.

St. John Chrysostom

The church created by the mystical trinity is gathered together in this church of Mary Mother of God. We greet Mary Mother of God, the venerable treasure of the whole world, inextinguishable lamp, crown of the virginity  and scepture of orthodoxy, indestructible temple.

  • Because of you who held Holy virginal womb
  • Because of you , the cross is venerated and adored throughout the whole world
  • Because of you heaven rejoices , angels and archangels delight, daemons are put to flight
  • Because of you the dead are raised and kings rule through the grace of the Holy trinity.